European Commission Encourages Certification of Biofuels

10 June 2010: To prepare for implementation of the 2009 EU Renewable Energy Directive, the European Commission has released three documents on biofuels: a communication on voluntary schemes and default values in the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme; a communication on the practical implementation of the EU biofuels and bioliquids sustainability scheme and on counting rules for biofuels; and a decision on guidelines for the calculation of land carbon stocks.

The Commission intends to encourage industry, governments and NGOs to set up voluntary certification schemes for all types of biofuels, including those imported into the EU, to demonstrate compliance with the sustainability criteria established by the Directive. The Commission proposes that the certification schemes, to be recognized by the EU, rely on independent auditors to check the whole production chain, from the farmer and the mill, via the trader, to the fuel supplier who delivers petrol or diesel to the filling station, setting standards, and ensuring reliable and fraud-resistant auditing.

In addition, the Commission has detailed the types of land that cannot be used to produce biofuels (natural forests, protected areas, wetlands, peatlands), explicitly ruling out that forests be converted into palm oil plantations. The Commission also explains how to prove that the biofuels used have high greenhouse gas (GHG) savings, specifying that in the calculation not only carbon dioxide is included, but also methane and di-nitrous oxide.

The memo presenting the new documents notes that biofuels that do not meet the sustainability criteria can still be imported into the EU, but will not count for the national targets the 27 EU Member States have to reach by 2020 under Renewable Energy Directive, and cannot receive national public support such as tax relief. [EU Press Release] [EU Memo] [Communications and Decision]